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Belgian investment funds: new questionnaire on the professional integrity and adequate expertise of candidates for regulated functions

25/02/2020

 

The Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority (“FSMA”) has published a new questionnaire on the professional integrity and adequate expertise of candidates for the regulated functions of investment funds or management companies of investment funds. This new questionnaire has been in operation since 1 January 2020.

 

Introduction

The 2008 financial crisis has brought its share of regulation to the financial world and investment funds have not been spared. Not only are investment funds subject to strict approval and operating conditions (UCITS, AIF, AIFM, MIFID, etc.), but several regulated functions, including those of the fund directors and the managers of the management company, also have to comply with specific requirements. One of them is completing a questionnaire proving their professional integrity and appropriate expertise when applying for such a regulated function. The Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority (“FSMA”) has published an updated version of the questionnaire, which has been in use since 1 January 2020.

 

A new questionnaire

The FSMA has published the new questionnaire through its Communication 2019_30 of 17 December 2019. As a result, it replaces its Communication 2017-10 dated 28 June 2017, which contained the old questionnaire. A link to the new questionnaire is to be found here.

The new questionnaire does not constitute a revolution, as its content remains more or less identical. It still aims to provide the FSMA with the necessary information to assess whether a candidate to a regulated function has the required expertise and integrity for the job. When it comes to the collective ability of a board of directors, regulated entities, as funds are, must make sure that the composition of the board gathers an adequate range of relevant knowledge and experience, with a view to ensuring an effective and objective exchange of views and decision-making within the Board.

However, the new questionnaire has been simplified. The questions are clear, without any ambiguity, adapted to current market developments and quite concise. Furthermore, the questionnaire focuses on 5 criteria:

(i) the candidate’s knowledge, qualifications and experience;

(ii) the candidate’s integrity;

(iii) whether the candidate has a conflict of interest;

(iv) the availability of the candidate; and

(v) the collective ability of the board and the management team.

Still, completing the questionnaire can sometimes be a challenge and legal assistance can be sought. More generally, the filing of a complete approval application with the FSMA for a new fund requires some experience.

 

Other documents to be filed with an application concerning regulated functions

Besides the questionnaire, when filing an application as candidate to a regulated function, the FSMA will usually demand a recto-verso copy of your identification card or passport and an extract from your criminal record. An updated curriculum vitae can also be useful to prove your professional ability. These documents may not be older than 3 months.

 

The ALTIUS team to provide assistance

The ALTIUS Banking & Finance team has an extensive knowledge when it comes to investment funds and their marketing in Belgium. Wherever and whenever needed, we can assist with such matters. Feel free to contact us.

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